The Operation (Laparoscopy)

The procedure depends on several factors, including the area of the body, the disease, the patient’s condition, and whether the operation is to diagnose or treat. Minimally invasive surgery on the knee, for instance, is much different than surgery on the abdomen.

A typical laparoscopic gallbladder operation usually involves the following steps:

  • The doctor makes a small incision just below the naval, or belly button. A tube is inserted into the incision, and harmless carbon dioxide gas flows through the tube to inflate the abdomen.
  • The gas creates a space between the wall of the abdomen and the intestines. It gives the doctor more space to work, and reduces the chances that internal organs will be injured when the laparoscope and other instruments are inserted.
  • Using the same incision, the doctor inserts the laparoscope into the abdomen. He can now look directly inside the abdomen and see the organs, or see them on the video monitor.
  • One or more additional incisions are usually needed in the lower abdomen. They are made a few inches above the pubic bone, and used to insert other specially designed surgical instruments.
  • While watching on the video monitor, the doctor performs the surgery using the specialized instruments that have been inserted through the small incisions. An assistant points the laparoscope toward the instruments, much like a helper shines a flashlight on a work area. The assistant moves the laparoscope so that the surgical area is constantly well lighted and in focus.
  • When the procedure is completed, the carbon dioxide gas is allowed to escape through the incisions, and the abdomen deflates.
  • The incisions are closed with one or two stitches and covered with an adhesive bandage or small dressing. The stitches may be the kind that dissolve and disappear on their own, or the doctor will remove them in about a week.

How Long Does Laparoscopy Take?

Diagnostic laparoscopy usually takes less than an hour. If the procedure is for treatment, it will depend on the condition and the complexity of the operation. It may take an hour or more and sometimes much longer, depending on the procedure.

What Happens When The Patient Wakes Up?

The effects of general anesthesia make most people feel groggy at first, but they quickly become more alert. Some people experience nausea for a short time after awakening from a general anesthesia. In the recovery room, the individual first rests in bed, then gradually sits up, stands, and walks as balance and mobility are regained.

Some laparoscopic procedures require an overnight hospital stay, or a stay of a few days.

However, most people are ready to leave the clinic or hospital two to four hours after laparoscopic surgery.

Need To Know:

The patient should be accompanied by someone who can take them home and make sure that there are no immediate complications. If the patient lives alone, check in with him or her for a day or two and make sure that recovery is progressing normally.

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